Welcome to what we can all hope is a big step back to normalcy; the 2021 Coed Slo-Pitch season. Hosting 42 teams, the League is gearing up for an exciting three months of ball that will stretch from early July to the end of September, ending with the 2021 Coed City Championships. While the diminutive 2020 installment was a much-needed deviation from lockdowns and case counts, 2021 will offer so much more.
In the sports world, making pre-season predictions and breakdowns can be a lot of fun. While they can serve to set the table for the top contenders, they can also provide fuel for those underdog teams that get overlooked. If your team didn’t get the nod as a Knowstrodumbas Contender or Darkhorse, don’t get mad, get motivated! On that note, let’s take a look at some of the clubs that will be potential contenders in September for the City Championships.
There will be a first-time Division 5 champion crowned as none of the 6 competitors have gone the distance before at this level. Now that being said, the group is far from devoid of contenders. Pitch Perfect returns to play after a 2nd place finish last season, coming up short against I’d Hit That. In 2019, the Misfits made the trip to the finals only to fall short. They were also D5 silver medalists in 2016. A third contender enters the fray under odd circumstances. The D4 City Champion Tailgators showed that on any given Sunday, any team can walk away with the title. They will make a strong bid to return to Division 4 in 2022. Also looking to jump on the podium, long-time division stalwarts Glo-Balls, The Oddballs, and Diamond Cutters (formerly Silver Springs Thumpers) enter 2021 with the potential to put forth their best season yet.
Top Contenders: Misfits & Tailgators
Division Darkhorse: Glo-balls
Moving up to the largest division in the league, D4 may also be the most wide-open of any group. B.P. Ballers’ sophomore St. Thomas season was an impressive one. Undefeated, the Ballers appeared poised for a D4 title before a shocking semi-final setback. On the other end of the spectrum, Beer Ballers debuted in 2020 with a rough regular season at the D3 level before rallying to a Silver medal. Elgin’s Backyard Burgers were D4 finalist last year placing their name near the top in 2021. Multiple teams with ties to Division 5 have climbed the ranks and will also make noise this year. The D5 2019 Champions Railway City Brew Crew and 2020 Champs I’d Hit That will look to parlay their success in their new home. Insanity also brings a solid core of players that have competed for titles with other teams. Sinner & A Saint will draw upon veteran leadership that has found success at this level. Established teams in Hit Squad and the 2016 D5 champion and 2019 D4 Bronze medalists Wanna Bats will return to action after a 1-year hiatus. Bucks & Broads move down from 2019’s Division 3 with something to prove, while Abusement Park and The Jokers make their rail city debuts as relative unknowns.
Top Contenders: B.P. Ballers, Hit Squad, & I’d Hit That
Division Darkhorse: Bucks & Broads
Division 3 is a nice mix of new and old. Back Alley Brew Crew, No Base Like Home, and the Tropics will all enter their first year in the league. Welcome to the shark tank! Arguably the biggest jaws in the division come in the form of the Jayhawks. With a 12-1-1 regular season and 2nd placed finish in 2019, the blue birds boast a hard mark to top.
The team that bested the Jayhawks in the 2019 finals were unable to defend their crown in 2020, but The O’s have a trio of City titles to their name. Also in 2019, Smash & Dash secured a double-digit win total at 10-4-0 finishing #2 in the D3 West. Additionally, 2017 D5 Champions Limitless Tattoos and 2019 D3 semi-finalist Scared Hitless will look to build on solid campaigns. Moving down from Division 2, Where My Pitches At? and Balled & Beautiful both return for their sophomore seasons and have the potential to turn their new homes upside down.
Top Contenders: Jayhawks, The O’s, & Smash & Dash
Division Darkhorse: Balled & Beautiful
Traditionally the most competitive group, Division 2 appears poised to hold onto that moniker. The 2019 Champions Game On, return to action looking to retake their spot at the top of the hill. Challenging the champs will be a host of returning adversaries. Brokebat Mountain, 2017 D4 Champions fell one win short of claiming the D2 title a year ago. One Hit Wonders (2019) and R-Safety (2018) have both been to the D2 City Finals but came up just short. OHW also took home the 2018 D2 Mid-Season Classic. The 2015 D4 City Champs and 2018 D3 finalist Standard Auto Glass S.O.P. made an impressive first showing in their divisional debut in 2019- finishing 2nd at 10-3-1 before bowing out in the semis. Dirt & Diamonds move down from the top Division despite putting forth a competitive effort against the D1 clubs in 2019. D&D could be the team to beat in 2021. Adding to the list of clubs with hardware, the Athletics debuted in Division 3 last year with a near-perfect run from start to finish on route to title town. They will face greater challenges this season. Finally, Bat Attitudes makes the jump up having contended in all previous divisions, including a 2018 D5 City title. It will be hard to overlook any of these eight squads.
Top Contenders: Game On, Dirt & Diamonds, & Brokebat Mountain
Division Darkhorse: Standard Auto Glass S.O.P.
In the top division, the defending D1 Champions are in play as PopATop attempts to repeat their City Championship success in just their second year in the league. Along with the City title, a combined overall record of 11-2-0 between the season and final weekend positioned PopATop as the team to beat. Undefeated in the 2020 regular season, New Wave returns after their 4th Division 1 Silver medal in five seasons. The Outcasts were also St. Thomas debutants last season and will look to build on their success outside of league play. After a year off, Fan of the Sport returns following their best D1 run- finishing #2 in the 2019 regular season. They have eight podium appearances in team history. Another league sophomore and the Division 2 2020 Champions, the Outlaws make their move up with intentions of injecting their name into title contention. Finally, the newest addition to the League, the Pirates, make their debut with a lineup built around former members of a successful D1 team.
Top Contenders: No Pick(s)
Division Darkhorse: No Pick(s)
Best of luck to all teams on Opening Day and throughout the season. Stay safe, have fun, and see you in September!